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HOW AND WHY TO CYCLE YOUR EXERCISE WITH YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE

HOW AND WHY TO CYCLE YOUR EXERCISE WITH YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE

HOW AND WHY TO CYCLE YOUR EXERCISE WITH YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE?

There is a common belief in the fitness world that regardless of gender, results are only achieved with consistent hard work. However, due to gender bias in the field of exercise science, most research on effective exercise planning is done on male subjects. 

Exercise recommendations are made as universal prescriptions, and women at all stages of life are optimistically trying the latest workout trend for positive results.  The pressure to maintain a certain body shape is at the forefront of many women’s training intentions. However, at some point in the month, the “always work hard” attitude comes into direct conflict with low energy days and women can fall victim to their own negative judgment.

WHAT IS CYCLE SYNCHRONIZATION? 

Have you ever felt like a slave to your hormones? It’s not just your imagination. 

Crying one minute, ecstatic the next, sometimes even excited – we women can sometimes be constantly spinning balls of energy and we can have our menstrual cycle ticking away. 

According to one of the first studies, hormonal fluctuations during the monthly menstrual cycle play a crucial role in our body’s responses. They affect our emotional state, our appetite, our mental processes and much more. 

Women reported high levels of well-being and self-esteem in the middle of the study cycle. More feelings of anxiety, hostility and depression were reported before period

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM CYCLE SYNCHRONIZATION? 

While everyone can benefit from cycle synchronization, certain groups can benefit the most. These groups include women who: 

  • Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) 
  • Are Overweight 
  • Are Excessively Tired 
  • Want To Regain Their Libido  
  • Want To Conceive 

You wouldn’t leave the house without checking the time. Hence, why live blindly without monitoring the flow of our hormones? 

If you don’t feel 100%, especially during your period, synchronizing your cycle might be right for you. Matching your life to your cycle helps you avoid burnout and allows you to stay mindful of your body’s needs every day.

THE STAGES OF THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE 

A menstrual cycle lasts an average of 23 to 38 days and consists of 3 phases. 

  • The Follicular Phase 

The follicular phase begins on the first day of the cycle and is characterized by the lowest levels of female hormones throughout the month. Since the sex hormones are low, this is the time when the female body most resembles that of a man. 

The follicular phase continues 5-6 days after the last day of the cycle and lasts 12-14 days. After your period, estrogen gradually increases, causing the release of luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones, culminating in mid-cycle ovulation.

  • Ovulation 

Ovulation is when your body releases an egg, and if sperm are present, this is the golden opportunity for implantation and pregnancy. In a 28-day cycle, ovulation occurs right around the middle, often near day 14. 

  • The Luteal Phase 

The luteal phase occurs shortly after ovulation and lasts the second half of the cycle, bringing with it the hormonal parade. 

At this point, estrogenic experiences a second moderate increase, but especially progesterone comes into play and leads to a series of physiological symptoms.  The luteal phase ends when progesterone peaks, and if you’re not pregnant, estrogenic and progesterone drop and signal the brain to start the cycle and start a new cycle.  Now that we have a basic understanding of the hormonal changes that define the menstrual cycle, let’s talk more about the physiological changes that can affect your exercise efforts.

THE EFFECTS OF HORMONE FLUCTUATIONS 

The first part of your cycle, known as the follicular phase, is the phase of low hormone levels, and the only cycle symptoms you are likely to experience are those of your cycle. If you’re looking to train hard, it would make sense that now would be the time of the month to do your best, since you don’t have hormonal symptoms that complicate things. 

The event of ovulation may be characterized by a slight increase in the woman’s temperature. It doesn’t look like a big deal on the thermometer, but it’s important to know that this temperature rise continues after ovulation and lasts through the second half of your cycle. 

Given the increase in temperature during the luteal phase, the female body is more responsive to exercise in hot or humid environments (think hot yoga, being in a hot gym or running outdoors on a hot summer day) and athletic performance can really last a shot.

In addition to increasing core temperature, progesterone increases resting heart rate and respiratory rate. These three symptoms can be interpreted as extra pressure on the body, especially during exercise, leaving a woman feeling compelled to work harder than usual. 

Another characteristic of progesterone is its catabolic effect, which means that this hormone likes to break down tissue.  This is important when it comes to strength training during the second half of the monthly cycle.  Under ordinary circumstances, resistance exercises require a load to work against – body weight, bands, cables, free weights – which creates a tension response in the muscles being worked. 

The muscle strain resulting from repetitive lifting of a difficult load leads to microscopic tears in the working muscles. Your body then heals these microscopic tears by regrowing muscle tissue, resulting in bigger, stronger muscles.  When progesterone is present during the second half of the menstrual cycle, it can reduce the regeneration of this protein, negatively affecting the muscle repair process

EXERCISE DURING CYCLE 

During this phase, your uterus sheds the lining it has built up over the month. The first day of the cycle is considered the first day of the cycle and this phase usually lasts between three and seven days. at the start of your period, your progesterone and estrogenic levels will be at their lowest, which, combined with blood loss, can make you  feel more tired than usual. As the cycle progresses, these hormone levels will gradually increase. 

If you feel tired during the first few days of your period, you may not feel like doing very strenuous exercise. You may want to reschedule your workouts or do gentle movements instead.

HOW TO TRAIN WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR PERIOD? 

  • Relaxing Yoga Poses or Stretches 

If a thorough, rigorous workout isn’t your thing during this time, practicing restorative yoga poses can be a great way to release tension and stress by calming your mind and body. Asanas such as Children’s Pose, Lying Spine Twist, and Cat are all poses that can help relieve tension in the lower back and pelvis. 

  • Walking Or Light Cardio 

Walking is an incredibly beneficial form of exercise that you can do at any stage of your cycle. If you usually run or walk vigorously, it may be a good idea to reduce the intensity of your cardio during your period by taking a gentle walk or slower jog. If you don’t feel like walking, there are plenty of other ways to have an active recovery day on your period. 

  • Lighter Strength Training 

You can continue strength training during this phase, but it may be a good idea to reduce the weights. Due to increased fatigue, this phase is not the time to try too hard, so try to stay where you are now, or I’ll take it easier than usual.

TRAINING DURING THE FOLLICULAR PHASE 

Your cycle has ended, and you are now in the follicular phase of your cycle. Let’s see how you can train best at this time of the month.  The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation and continues until ovulation begins. This is usually the 1st to 11th day of the menstrual cycle. During the follicular phase, your body creates a hormone known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone signals the ovaries to create eggs for the ovulation phase, each of which is housed in a “follicle”. After your period ends, your estrogenic levels increase dramatically as your body prepares to release an egg, which is usually associated with increased energy.

HOW TO TRAIN DURING THE FOLLICULAR PHASE? 

With increased energy, the follicular phase is a good time to challenge yourself or try new things in your exercise routine. 

  • High Intensity Interval Training 

Whether High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is already a regular part of your routine or is completely new to you, HIIT workouts are a great way to train when your energy levels are up. is high! HIIT is fast, fun, and has the physical benefits of increasing your VO2max, a measure of aerobic capacity that refers to the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. 

  • Boxing 

Looking for another great way to release your energy and try something new? Try boxing fit challenge for a high-energy workout that will help you build overall full-body strength. 

  • Bodybuilding 

The follicular phase is also the perfect time to push yourself a little further in your bodybuilding. This could mean challenging yourself with heavier weights or trying push-ups on your toes instead of your knees. If you’re new to strength training, start with some bodyweight exercises to build your confidence and get the most out of this high-energy phase.

LET YOUR BIOLOGY BE YOUR GUIDE TO EXERCISE 

A few simple habits can make a big difference when it comes to getting your workouts in sync with your cycle. 

CYCLE MONITORING 

If you want to improve your exercise efficiency along with your menstrual cycle, the first requirement is to monitor your cycle.  It’s as easy as holding a digital thermometer and an alarm clock by your bed. Every morning when you wake up (for this method it is important to wake up at the same time), before doing anything (do not get out of bed or even drink a sip of water), take your temperature and write it down. 

This is especially important during the first half of your cycle, so you can understand what your waking temperature is. By writing it at the same time each morning, you may notice a slight increase in your temperature around the middle of your cycle, indicating that ovulation has occurred. 

Tracking your menstrual cycle will take the guesswork out of it and give you the ability to anticipate what your body is ready to tolerate.  Note that if you are taking a contraceptive, which may work by preventing ovulation, this method of monitoring your cycle may be more difficult.

CHOOSE DIFFERENT EXERCISES AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE MONTH 

  • Follicular Phase 

This is when you can HIIT hard (look what I did there!). Get your high-intensity interval training, powerlifting, weightlifting, plyometric, long runs, hot yoga, hill reps, or other intense exercise modes now. Take at least a day of rest between intense workouts and watch for signs of overtraining, as some studies suggest you may be more prone to muscle damage from overtraining during this phase. 

  • Luteal Phase 

Now is the time to respect your body’s high hormonal load. Moderate cardio (no breathless intervals), outdoor walking and hiking, strength training (low to moderate weights and higher reps), yoga, and Pilates are all great choices. Now is a good time to improve your mobility and make sure you stay away from hot training environments.

WORK WITH YOUR BODY, NOT AGAINST IT 

Research on recommended exercises and protocols relies heavily on data used by male subjects, as they lack the monthly hormonal fluctuations of women. 

As a result, women attempt to implement exercise programs that are not designed with female biology in mind, leaving them wondering where they went wrong when their energy shifts. 

By knowing the phases of their menstrual cycle and monitoring their cycles, women will be empowered in monitoring the effectiveness of exercise while avoiding failed workouts and self-criticism. 

THE TAKEAWAY

Tailoring your workouts to each phase of your cycle can be a powerful strategy to help you feel your best all month long. Being aware of your energy level, mood, strength, and injury susceptibility can help you look your best and feel great at every stage of your cycle. Working with your body, rather than against it, can be a game-changer for overall well-being – try and see for yourself.

 

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